Tuesday, November 18, 2014


HCCA’s Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 25 September at 3:00pm in the Griffith Community Hall. It was a magnificent event with a very strong turnout and I would like to thank to all attendees for their time and participation.

We are very pleased to introduce our new Executive Committee as elected at our AGM.
 Our Executive Committee members are as follows:
- Dr Sue Andrews – President
- Dr Michelle Banfield - Vice-President
- Hugh Crawford – Treasurer
- Bill Heins - Member (for two year term)
- Fran Parker - Member (for two year term)
- John Didlick -Member (for two year term)
- Marcus Bogie - Member (for two year term)
- Adele Stevens - Member (for one year term)
- Bev McConnell - Member (for one year term)

HCCA would like to thank the outgoing Executive Committee members David Lovegrove for his support for HCCA over many years and contribution to the governance of this organisation.

The AGM was followed by a panel discussion on the politics of health and the role of consumer organisations in ensuring that our health system meets the needs of the community. We were very pleased to hear from two HCCA members, Fiona Tito Wheatland, Russell McGowan and also Adam Stankevicius, the Chief Executive Officer of the Consumers Health Forum.

Fiona Tito Wheatland kicked off the panel discussion looking at how consumers and people alike have differing power and knowledge. Fiona noted that everyone has their own feelings regarding health and health services. An example of this was Fiona’s mother, she did not want to make a fuss so Fiona waited until her mother passed away to make complaints surrounding her health services. It can sometimes be more complicated if you are advocating for someone else, rather than yourself.

Consumers need to be at the core of the health service, but it is always around the needs of the provider. An example Fiona gave was the processes in which nurse administer morphine. Rather than administering morphine when it was best for the patient, nurse were more focused on when it was the best and easies time for them.

They were taking blood test every morning because that’s what they do. The efficient running of their word is more important. This shows how political the health service is. There are some serious issues with aged care.

Fiona stated that doctors and nurses need to response to consumer’s feelings. It is quite difficult to change the way doctors and nurses deal with patients as they are trained in the structure of an apprenticeship, this means the same issues are only passed onto each generation of doctors and nurse, such as keeping a distance. Change will be hard as doctors and nurses will have to give up power and move to a new model.

Fiona finished with saying that patient centred care is still not the main model supported within health services. There is still a lot of work to be done and a need for more consumer input.

Russell McGowan followed Fiona, Russell’s presentation to members was looking at the aspect of ensuring our health system meets community needs. Russell started off with the question “Are we patients or are we consumers?” The answer was we are who we say we are, sometimes we identify our self’s as consumers and sometimes as patients. Consumers are people, we bring that to the table. We are also carers and citizens.

Consumers come in all shapes and sizes, with mixed experiences of life. There are three dimensions to consumers, these are:
  • Active/passive
  • Informed/uninformed
  • Positive/negative

Consumers as participants, Healthcare works best when consumers are active partners in decision making. Consumers are more likely to adopt and maintain healthy behaviours and follow care plans when they feel in control. This means better clinical hand over, better clinical decisions when consulted, improved medication management, minimised wastage, minimisation of duplicated tests and learn from mistakes.

Consumer groups / organisations represent millions of healthcare consumers, when everyone works together its more power full. Consumer groups / organisations cover such a broad spectrum, this includes population groups: older people, women, culturally diverse and Illness and self-help groups which includes diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular and prostate cancer.

Consumer groups deliver opportunities to build opportunities to work with health care organisations. They also provide support and training to consumers so they can participate in service planning, tap into community views and compile/research into consumer experiences and expectationsRussell finished with the statement that we should see consumers as the solution. We can make a difference, the glass is still only half full.

Adam Stankevicius, the Chief Executive Officer of the Consumers Health Forum, was the final speaker from the panel. Adam started by saying it’s a really interesting time to be in health policy, it could be seen as a blessing or a curse. The current political environment is not focused on health policy, where two of the main political parties very light on health issues.

One of the main issues today is that the things currently shaping health policies are not brought up by the health minister, rather by other ministers. The current Government feels there is no need for a therapeutic goods administration. The current Australian government believes regulation can be through the American system. However this is an issues, as removing red tape and deregulation can have detrimental effects. The regulation should be provided through states and territories, this is a clear sign that Australian is moving towards more of a U.S health system. The importance of having Health Care Consumers’ and Consumers’ Health Forum is to ask and debate these ideas is such a vital part of shaping a better health system for all.

Fiona Tito Wheatland, Russell McGowan and Adam Stankevicius all gave fantastic talks, providing everyone with a different perspectives at different levels of the health system. We would like to thank all three panel member for giving up their time and sharing their valuable views and experience of the health system. 

Nick Wales
Project Officer - HIP 

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